A REVIEW of the workplace culture at Central Gippsland Health has not revealed any systemic issues suggesting a poor workplace culture.
Where the review identified workplace behaviour issues, they were “not of a nature or frequency in excess of other similar organisations”, it found.
The independent review was conducted by Justitia, a leading employment, discrimination and labour relations law firm, at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services.
It found that members of the executive and senior leadership were aware of “a variety of challenges” that existed within the organisation, and had been taking steps to address them.
It also noted it was satisfied that there was nothing in the material presented regarding each of the job terminations it looked at to suggest that the dismissals were unfair or that CGH policies were otherwise not followed.
With respect to workplace culture, the report noted CGH had implemented a number of initiatives, had been proactive with regard to complaint resolution and had sought to utilise staff forums, newsletters and its Moodle platform to improve communication.
Justitia has, however, identified a number of areas which could be improved to support a positive workplace culture at CGH.
These were in relation to CGH policies and procedures, complaints handling processes and workforce data.
Justitia calculated 130 people had contributed information to the review, with 54 per cent of the comments negative, 32 per cent positive, and 14 per cent mixed responses.
Participants included current and former employees and members of the executive and senior leadership group.
“Justitia was not instructed to formally investigate any allegations or matters of concern raised during the consultation process,” the report noted.
“The themes should be read as the untested observations of a self-selected group of participants, not as substantiated findings.”
These “themes” included concerns about communication between lower-level staff and senior management, concerns about ongoing issues with the surgical team, the need for improvements in incident and risk reporting, concerns about pay miscalculations, recruitment and management processes involving family members, a need for better access to staff training during work hours, concerns about the resourcing of nursing staff and resourcing in the emergency department and feedback for some senior managers regarding overall management style.
Justitia recommended some “minor” amendments to a number of CGH policies, including in the areas of equal opportunity, discrimination and harassment prevention, complaint resolution, workplace bullying, grievance resolution and “protected disclosure procedure”.
It also made some recommendations surrounding staff training and complaints handling.
In recommended CGH revise the content of the bullying, harassment and discrimination program on Moodle to make clear that engaging in this conduct in the workplace was unlawful.
Justitia also recommended GCH’s bullying, harassment and discrimination program should be a mandatory competency to be completed at least every two years, rather than every three years.
“Attendance at a face-to-face session should be a mandatory requirement for managers,” it suggested.
Central Gippsland Health welcomed the findings, and the board, chief executive Dr Frank Evans and the executive will review the report’s recommendations.
“Our staff are our most valuable commodity, and we are keen to act to ensure they are confident they are fully supported by Central Gippsland Health,” board chairman Glenn Stagg and Dr Evans said in a media statement.
“This has been a very difficult time for all our staff at CGH,” Mr Stagg said.
“We are proud that they have continued to focus on our goals which are to provide the best health services for our community and our staff.”
Dr Evans highlighted many current initiatives at CGH that focused on patient and staff health and wellbeing, including a ‘transformational’ care coordination project, a staff health and wellbeing project, now in its third year, and the recent success of CGH’s third annual ‘Wellvember’, a month of activities supporting staff wellbeing, including the planning of additional staff activities and supports for the coming year.
He said CGH had also launched a major project to build a learning program about people-centered care — “people” being patients, the community and staff.
Dr Evans said this program would be supported by a communication charter currently being developed with the involvement of all staff.
“Every organisation can always improve and we must continue to build on these foundations,” he said.
The inquiry was instigated after allegations of a culture of bullying and harassment at Central Gippsland Health.
The full report is available on the CGH website.